Monday, July 13, 2015

"Remember Me This Way": A Creepy, Twisted and Slow Burn Thriller

How well do we really know anyone?

Sabine Durrant's dysfunctional marriage thriller "Remember Me This Way" goes beyond the surface of the secrets in a marriage between a sociopath and an introverted librarian that he stalks and eventually marries to show how easy it is to be deceived.

I'm not always a huge fan of thrillers - especially thrillers that show how messy marriages between crazy people can be.  Infidelity, twisted psychotic episodes, abuse - both mental and physical . . . all of these traits seem to mark the "must reads" that deal with dysfunctional marriages.  Just like in "The Girl on the Train" Sabine Durrant gives us a clingy, passive woman as a main character.  Lizzie unlike Rachel in "The Girl on the Train" has some desirable traits.  For one, she isn't drunk all the time, and for the most part, she doesn't tell lies to everyone that she knows.  Lizzie's conflict is her husband's tragic death which happened a year before the book begins.  Due to her guilt over feeling a little bit relieved after his death, she hasn't been able to visit the site of his car accident.  When she musters the will to go there, she finds flowers from a woman named Xenia there already, and she begins to unravel the secret life that her husband, Zach led.

Was anything that he told her true? If he really was a horrible person, what does it say about her that she really loved him? What does it say about her that she often felt responsible for his abusive and erratic behavior?

The narration switches back and forth from Lizzie trying to figure out what really happened to her husband and what he was really up to during their brief and tumultuous marriage.  She also wants to answer the questions that she has about whether or not he even died or if he is just waiting to punish her for the break up letter that she sent to his art studio.  In Zach's chapters, the reader becomes privy to the world of a misanthrope who never really tells the truth to anyone in his adult life, and about how easily he can camouflage himself into the nice guy or the new guy or the artist guy.  It's a dark world that Zach inhabits full of stalking just to see if he can get away with it and a trail of lies and abhorrent behavior with people who foolishly trust and even love him.

Lizzie's story is sad, but Durrant handles her codependent behavior with care.  She gives Lizzie a backbone (even if it isn't a very strong one).  The biggest downfall in this novel for me was the ease that Lizzie excepted the obviously troubled and incredibly spooky teenager, Onnie, into her home.  Although Lizzie felt reservations in allowing Onnie into her life, she caves quickly due to the pity she feels for her.  I never got a true sense of Onnie, and I never really wanted to.  She was more of an annoyance even though her story was integral to the plot.

Overall, I found Durrant's book to be a sly and well crafted thriller that felt perfect for an overly rainy week of summer.  I flew through it, and was satisfied with the outcome.  Something about this dysfunctional marriage rang more true than the relationships in the wildly successful "Girl on the Train" characters and their flawed love lives, or even "Gone Girl" and the sadistic nature of the wife who wants to punish her husband for his infidelity.  The pace wasn't as break neck, but quieter and even a bit repetitious at parts.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself while reading it, and recommend it to anyone looking for a quick thriller for the beach.

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